WIDE RECEIVER DEION BRANCH
Q: What do you see from this defense in Buffalo right now?
DB: A lot of great things. I think the record doesn't mean anything. It doesn't speak of what this team is. I think they're doing a great job of executing their plays these last five or six games. They're probably one of the hottest teams. I think people talk about us being hot, [but] this team [is also].
Q: Have you seen how the Bills have gotten better by watching film of them?
DB: I'm sure they've made a lot of adjustments. To where, I can't say. I don't want to give away our keys to what we see. But I think the coaches did a great job of adjusting and making moves, and putting the guys in the right place.
Q: How do you feel at this stage of the season? Are you where you want to be both mentally and physically?
DB: Mentally, physically, I think we're all a little tired, but that's across the league. I think it's [the] time right now [that] we've got to pick it up a whole lot more. These are times that we need all the guys clicking out there on all cylinders. And that's what you're going to get from us.
Q: How about you?
DB: I'm feeling pretty good, pretty good.
Q: You've been on championship teams before. At this point, how important is it to have goals in front of you every week like the division title?
DB: I think overall we set goals at the beginning of the season. I think this week is more vital than any week we've had in the past. I think all the hype was on the Jets game, going into the Pittsburgh game, going into the Indianapolis game. None of those games were as important as this one. I think this is the most important game that's on our schedule right now.
Q: How do you let the younger players know they have to pick it up and get a little bit better?
DB: I think the guys see it from the veteran guys that we do have on the team. There are not too many, but I think the guys see the way we've been going at practices. The sense of urgency is there from all of us. I think the guys get it.
Q: Is Tom Brady at the point of his career where if he has to miss practice all week with the flu and has to come in Sunday, you're pretty confident he can step in?
DB: Yeah, we've got to do what we've got to do, whatever it takes to get Tom up to full strength. If he needs to rest two or three days, that's what he's got to do.
Q: What's the most important thing for a rookie or a young player to know at this time of year?
DB: I think the biggest thing is just staying focused, not getting too complacent to think we've got something locked up because we don't. Everything isn't wrapped up right now. I think this is an important week. We can take advantage of a lot of different things going into this game [and] control what we can control. I think that's the most important thing. You talk to most of the guys about just staying focused, continuing to do what they were doing earlier in the season [and] trying to ground it out a little bit more after practice, little things like that.
Q: It sounds like the younger guys are doing a pretty good job picking up on that kind of stuff.
DB: They're doing it. I think we've got the right coach leading us, so he's going to make sure it gets done.
Q: At this time of year, we talk about health in terms of your body, but what about things like the flu?
DB: I think we've been speaking about it a lot now that the weather is changing. I think a couple of you all may be a little sick, too, later on. We're noticing not as many reporters in here. But I think right about now, with the weather changing, there is going to be a lot of illness running around. [We're] trying to make sure we're pumping in the fluids in our body, getting the proper rest, eating the right foods, trying to be more of a true professional right now.
Q: With that being said, how much of an incentive is the rest a first round bye would give you?
DB: That's everything in the league. Nobody gets an exception. The thing is now to take advantage of the opportunities we have in front of us, and hopefully we can go out and get the job done this week and rest some guys.
Q: Do you think about the fact that you'd get a little bit of a break to heal or rest?
DB: We do. And then we've got to get back to work, too. There is a time and a place when we can rest a little bit, but you've got to know when you've got to go back to work.
Q: There hasn't been much of a mention of your 14-game winning streak against the Bills. Is that because you want to stay focused on this game, but you also have to keep it in mind because they're working extra hard?
DB: These guys still have a lot that they're playing for, too. Their jobs are on the line. There is a lot of pride that is involved in this game. I wasn't involved in what seven or eight of those games, so I can't say ... They have a lot at stake as well. I think this game is very important for both of us.
Q: Does it remind you all that you have to work extra hard?
DB: Yeah, always. I think each game is different. Each game is very different. We have a lot at stake this week as far as football-wise and seeding and all that nonsense. These guys, their jobs are on the line. I'm sure they won't make the playoffs, but their coach wants to see who's going to quit. And I know these guys will go out and do everything they possibly can to win.
Q: How are you going to spend Christmas with your family with the game this weekend?
DB: I don't know. Coach hasn't given us the schedule yet. We're hoping he gives us a little time. We have to roll with it. Whatever he gives us, we have to go with it. I think our wives and our kids sign up for this football stuff along with us. The kids may be happy because they'll probably get to open their gifts on Friday, so we'll see.
LINEBACKER ROB NINKOVICH
Q: (On Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick)
RN: Fitzpatrick has been doing some good things out there. He can make a lot of throws. He also has the ability to run a little bit, so as a defense, you have to make sure that you don't let him out of the pocket to try and keep him contained and just make him make all the throws.
Q: What makes Fred Jackson such a challenging and effective running back?
RN: He can just bounce outside and has power to get up in the middle. He's just a good overall back. He can catch the ball in the backfield and he can make plays. You've just got to keep him contained and not let him get outside and set the edge and make sure he doesn't bounce outside.
Q: What would you say to the Bills being a much better team than their record would indicate?
RN: Every NFL team has great players, so you've got to give them credit for having good players. Maybe the first half of the year, sometimes, things aren't clicking and they change some things up and stuff starts working for you. They've definitely been playing better the last half of the year than they have the first half of the year.
Q: Do you feel that in this league records aren't really indicative of where a team's at?
RN: Yeah, I mean every NFL team has great players, so every team has the ability to beat another team. You just have to make sure that you're prepared and that you're playing your best game on Sunday.
Q: How much has Coach Belichick hammered the point that the Bills came really close to beating some top teams?
RN: Yeah, I've watched a few tapes of them playing the Steelers and they played tough. They made some big plays. You can't go into that game not playing at your best, so we've got to make sure we go in there and come with some energy and have a good overall game.
Q: Is tape study more important this time of year than practice?
RN: The more tape you watch, you're going to be more prepared out there because they're going to do some things on tape that they're going to do in the game. So, obviously if you can get some keys off of that, you would be able to play a little bit faster. If you can see what's going on in your head before it even happens, you're going to be ahead of the game.
Q: How big of a motivational goal is it to be playing for the AFC East division title and the No. 1 seed?
RN: Oh, it's huge for us. You get that bye and it's good for your body. We're in the driver's seat right now, so we've got to make sure that we go out there and we can control our own destiny. So, that's what we want to do.